Do you own leather? If you do, when was it last cleaned? Usually when someone buys leather they are told that there is virtually no maintenance other that using soap and water to occasionally wipe it down. That’s it! This is a misconception and here’s why.
- First, low maintenance is usually interpreted as no maintenance.
- Second, “protected” leathers have a durable pigmented finish, but not indestructible. This finish initially allows consumers to clean leather with almost anything and get an immediate satisfactory result. The use of these products, not designed for leather, may break down this durable finish causing the pigment to crack and peel. Improper maintenance directly leads to expensive restoration or replacement.
- Third, aniline and nubuck leathers are not low maintenance and have very little if any water repelling properties, unless it has been treated. You will see this for yourself if you ever spill liquid on the surface. These leathers are extremely porous and should be cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis to protect your investment.
- Fourth, leather is purchased primarily for the most active rooms in the house. This choice makes good maintenance a high priority to protect the looks of your investment and for prolonging the life of your leather.
TYPES OF LEATHER
A – Aniline
Also known as Natural, Pure, Naked and Unprotected. These are Leathers that are colored with transparent dyestuff. This means you are able to see the actual surface grain markings. These Leathers have very little or no protective treatments applied to them.
P – Protected
Also known as Finished, Semi Aniline, Everyday, Pigmented and Painted. These Leathers have combined the best aspects of a natural product (Leather) and have utilized tannery technology to create a product that is more uniform in appearance and color.
N – NuBuck
Also known as Chaps, Distressed, Bomber and Suede. These are actually Aniline Leathers that the surface has been brushed, and have created a texture similar to velvet on Leather upholstery or fabric. Suede is the “flesh” side of a piece of Leather and NuBuck is an effect that is done to the grain side. Because NuBuck and Aniline Leathers are alike, it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart.
Consider the dust that builds up on a coffee table or desk over a week’s time. This same dust is being deposited on your leather. To this dust, add the airborne cooking oils and atmospheric pollution that is present, to some degree, in every home.
This includes the outside tracking of the common dirt, sand and vegetable fibers from plants. These are carreid into the house in various ways, which can be transferred to leather directly or indirectly from kids and animals.
The inks from newsprint in newspapers will readily be deposited on leather. Clothes such as denims will lose some of their dye onto leather in a process called crocking. The direct approach from the occasional leaky pen or the aspiring 2-year old artist should not be forgotten.
Body oils from both humans and animals cause soils to attach and hold onto leather. Hair and hand oils are easily transferred to the arms and head cushions of leather furniture.